NFL Thanksgiving 2016: Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions
The first matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions was a tightly contested game that dramatically ended in overtime. The second on Thanksgiving Day could be just as intense as they meet at Ford Field.
A yearly tradition for the Lions usually winds up with them hosting a non conference foe, but the game on Turkey Day between the Vikes and Lions has much more hanging in the balance.
First place in the division is on the line; NFC North supremacy and a one game lead could be had by either team Thursday at Ford Field. Matthew Stafford dazzled in the fourth quarter in the first meeting between these two teams, then once again was clutch in overtime, knocking out Minnesota with a dime to Golden Tate for the game-winning touchdown. Stafford and company have been clutch all season in close games. But can they really continue to win close games through December? Their final game versus the Vikings may be the telling factor.
After dwindling through a four-game losing streak, the Vikings found confidence once again when they stalled Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals in the fourth quarter last Sunday at home. It wasn’t the prettiest victory, but anything to end the losing skid.
Minnesota’s defense is the healthiest it’s been since the bye week and offensively things are starting to turn around. What’s more, the positive momentum is slightly starting to build in the land of 10,000 lakes.
Keys to Victory
Oddly enough, Detroit can execute the same exact gameplan they used before to be victorious once again over Minnesota. Theo Riddick and Eric Ebron play key factors in the short and intermediate passing game for Detroit, while Tate will play a wild card out of the slot.
Stafford’s quick release will also be a difference maker between these two teams. The Vikings hadn’t done a great job rushing the passer until last Sunday, coverage from Xavier Rhodes and company must be on point for this defense to succeed on Thursday.
On the opposite end, Minnesota just needs to keep staying unpredictable. Pat Shurmur has done a solid job as the offensive coordinator since taking over for Norv Turner. Minnesota has done a better job at getting the ball out of Bradford’s hands quickly, the offensive line has improved exceptionally these last two weeks, and the run game finally found a little wiggle room against a stout Cardinals run defense. Detroit’s defense will give the Vikings multiple opportunities to capitalize throughout, the question is will they be able to exploit what’s given to them.
Point Spread: Detroit -2.5 Moneyline: Detroit -135,Minnesota +115 Over/Under: 41.5
With their defense reeling in the first half versus the Cardinals, Minnesota’s offense really portrayed a phase that is really starting to come together. Stefon Diggs is rolling, the offensive line is for the most part playing better football, and the defense is healthier than ever. Stafford cannot continue to put together fourth quarter comebacks every single week. The feeling is that the Lions play in the fire again, but falter at the end.